Thoughts About Reaching Family — Step One

ESSAY ONE: Have we earned the “right to be heard”?

Marketing 101 – when a person is selling something, they need customers who are “in the market” for what they are offering.

That may sound crass, but as we seek to reach our family and friends, we need to ask a question.

In order to “tee up” the question, consider this scenario. You are happily sitting at home and the phone rings. On the other end of the line is someone trying to sell you something you are not interested in buying. They have not considered what you are doing. They seemingly don’t care. They have invaded your world. They were not invited. What is your reaction?

That is called “cold-calling”. It is all about the person who wants to sell. It is not about the customer. The folks who run these operations know it is NOT about people, it is about sales. They know for every 100 or 1,000 calls, they will get a certain number of people to buy what they are selling. So, they call, and they call, and they call.

I will tell you my wife, when we receive these calls, is much more polite than I am. She is nonetheless annoyed, not interested, and never ever buys what they are selling.

The question I want to ask is, “When we approach our family and friends about Jesus, are we ‘cold-calling’. Are we showing up, invading their space, with an uninvited conversation?”

If so, their reaction will be at best disinterest, and at worst annoyance or anger.

I appreciate my words may sound jarring, but “springing on family and friends” a conversation about Jesus can feel like a cold call.

Let me be clear. I know this reaction is not our intention. I know we care deeply about our family and friends. At issue is their perspective. If they feel we are more interested in “the sale”, then we are interested in them, then we’ve missed the mark.

And that, my friends, brings us, sort of, to the “marketing issue”. They perceive we are trying to sell them something they don’t want to buy.

I write “sort of” because if we were really trying to “market Jesus”, we would then go in a direction to explain to them all the benefits of Jesus and why they need him. We would point out how all those things they are living for really won’t fulfill them. We would, like any good marketing person, be working to create in them, a “felt need”.

Can I suggest we not go down that road? Can I suggest that reaching our family and friends for Jesus is not a marketing problem to be solved?

Reaching our family and friends for Jesus is an act of love.

So, what do we do? Answer: Be CURIOUS!

Be curious about their life. Be curious about what interests them. Be curious about their cares and concerns. Be curious about their hopes and dreams. In order for your family and friends to know you actually care about them, you need to show it in both the time you spend with them AND the quality of the conversations.

Let’s get specific by asking ourselves a few questions. For the family or friends we want to reach, how much time do we spend with them? Further, if we can generally estimate how much time we spend with them, then what percentage of that time do we ask them questions about what interests them?

Consider an extreme example. Let’s say we spend one hour a week with a friend, and in every conversation, we bring up Jesus, or we invite them to Church, etc. We might think we only bring it up once. But here is the rub, if their internal reaction is one of “being ‘cold-called’”, then we’ve communicated to them we are more interested in “selling them Jesus”, than we are in them.

So, let’s be curious. Lets’ ask questions. Let’s begin learning more and more about what their hopes and dreams are. Jesus was great about asking questions. Then let’s pray for them.

Step One is all about learning our friends and family’s life goals. In Step Two we will dig into how to address that our life goals are most likely radically different than theirs, but for now, let’s keep it about them.

We are just getting started. In this essay I have wanted to invite us to really understand the cares and concerns, the hopes and dreams, for the people we love. To be genuinely CURIOUS.